Looking forward to this: writer, artist and all round comics enfant terrible, Brandon Graham is set to return with several projects this year, one being ‘8house’ in June – a series of stories by him with different artists in the style of the Heavy Metal anthology. There’s also something else called ‘Island’ coming in July – 112 oversized pages with contained, one-off stories – and the long-delayed ‘Prophet: Earth War’ end to the saga at some point. More info and a lot more besides on his site.
Finally, FINALLY!, I’ve secured a copy of Kevin O’Neill‘s legendary ‘Mek Memoirs’ fanzine/mini comic from 1976. It’s only taken me 14 years since first signing up to eBay and creating a search for it, having been outbid on the only two other copies to have come up in that time. 12 pages of self-published, prime pre-2000AD O’Neill robot business, no one can draw bots like Kev.
His hyper-detailed style is still forming into the unique presence he would add to the comic a year later here, first as art director and occasional spot illustrator and then as fully-fledged art droid. For a thorough overview on Kev’s early career including his stint on Horror Classics, take a look at Lew Stringer’s excellent blog piece here.
Just saw Avengers: Age of Ultron which was excellent fun. Then this got posted to my Facebook page – an alphabetical run down of Marvel characters to the instrumental of Blackalicous‘ ‘ Alphabet Aerobics’ by Tribe One. The man has skills.
Several items from my collection of Savage Pencil / SavX aka Edwin Pouncey‘s advertising for the Slam City Skates shop. (Above) A rare Slam City Skates bag from 1990, the reverse had a similar image but advertised the Rough Trade record shops, one of which had a space in the basement below SCS’s Covent Garden branch.
(Below) Several adverts by Savage Pencil for the Slam City Skates shop from 1986, 1984 and 1987. The 1976 – 1986 flyer is a Battle Of The Eyes production by SavX and Chris Long.
Going through the archive recently for something else I chanced upon these lesser seen early Simon Bisley artworks from the late 80’s. After Simon exploded onto the comic scene with his work for 2000ad on ABC Warriors and Slaine it seemed everyone wanted a piece of him and his work inevitably started appearing outside the comic world too.
His love of Heavy Metal music is well known so it was no surprise when I spotted a cover and advert he’d done for the short-lived Kerrang! rival, RAW (Rock Action Worldwide, not the New York underground Raw publication). I’m pretty sure this is one of the first instances of The Biz drawing Batman, the Joker, Spiderman and Marshall Law, even Judge Dredd too.
Possibly from the same magazine a couple of years later is a full page painting of Slayer complete with horned devil and Giger-esque creature. Below that is a flyer for a Rock club night I picked up in the late 80’s in London which I’m 99% certain is a Biz doodle.
Last here are a couple of Bisley cameos from anthology books I’ve collected over the years, sadly I’ve forgotten the actual titles of the books but one was some sort of horror anthology and also featured one-off illustrations by other comic artists of the day.
A 3 page story appeared in the January ’92 issue of Heavy Metal magazine, credited to Greg Gallo and made entirely out of distorted photocopies. I’ve searched for more comic work by Gallo but found nothing, can anyone enlighten me on anything else he’s done please or was this a one-off? The twisted xeroxes remind me of WKinteract‘s work that sometimes utilises a similar method.
‘Ordinary’ was one of my comics of 2014, the story of a world where everyone wakes up with different super powers, all except Michael who’s ordinary. As the world quickly goes to pot he has to find his son in a New York city gone mad and he soon becomes a target for the government – who want him dead – and the scientists who want him alive as they believe that he may hold the key to reversing the effect.
Shot through with Rob Williams‘ dark humour and illustrated in gorgeous colour by D’Israeli, I’m not ashamed to say that the ending bought a lump to my throat. Originally published in the Judge Dredd Megazine it’s now been collected into a trade paperback by Titan Comics and buyers from OK Comics in Leeds can get an exclusive signed bookplate edition by both creators.
Very sad to hear the news today that Brett Ewins has died after a short illness. He was a master of his art and a huge influence in British comics in the 80’s and 90’s. Starting out with Brendan McCarthy and Pete Milligan he bought the sharpness of the ska movement into comics, slowly working his way up from one-off Future Shock stories in 2000AD to full-on national treasure status in the comic’s first golden age.
Judge Dredd, Bad Company, Rogue Trooper, Judge Anderson, Johnny Nemo and more, he made a huge impression on me as a kid. As the 80’s ended he co-founded the music and comics magazine, Deadline with Steve Dillon and they launched Tank Girl into the world among many others. I’m pretty sure I draw skulls the way I do because of Brett’s depiction of them as biochips in the Rogue Trooper stories. I remember copying at least one of his characters in a graffiti piece I did in my teens and also being shit-scared of a particular character he and Brendan McCarthy drew for a story called ‘The Day of the Phoenix’.
The one page ‘Encounter’ from a very early issue of 2000AD freaked me out as an 8 year old, mostly because of the leering face of the creature about to do something unspeakable to the human who had just teleported into its world. Back in 2011 Air Pirate Press published ‘The Art of Brett Ewins’, a collection of a lot of his best work from the start of his career up until that time. It’s an excellent book and came as a timely reminder of Brett’s achievements as he’d disappeared from the scene amid rumours of health issues. The book is even more important now that he is now longer with us and nestled inside was the ‘Phoenix’ page which triggered a deep nostalgia in me. I made some inquiries and got a message to Brett asking if he still had the page and was it for sale? Luckily he did and it was, so one summer afternoon I found myself visiting him in his West London home, looking through various classic Dredd stories and chatting about his career. He still had the table that he and Brendan used to sit at and draw on when they were first starting out and he told me he loved listening to Brian Eno when he drew.
He was very humble about his own work and forthcoming with answers to the many questions I had about it. I bought the page although, unfortunately, most of the lettering had fallen off over time (it was drawn in 1978). Brett said that it was around somewhere and that he’d find it and send it to me although that wasn’t to be. Just a few months later there was a news story that he had been arrested and sectioned after an incident outside that very house late one night and soon after he was imprisoned for stabbing a policeman. He had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and served several months in jail before being released in late 2012. Since then he had been under psychiatric care and even made a few appearances at comic events as many rallied round him to offer support. I feel very lucky to have met him for the hour I was at his house, he certainly won’t be forgotten.
I urge you to buy a copy of ‘The Art of Brett Ewins’ to see how much great work this man gave to the comic world, Titan have also recently released a Johnny Nemo compendium collecting all the old strips and adding new work by artists like Rufus Dayglo, Ashley Wood and more. Air Pirate Press have collections of his Bad Company work and the US series, Skeemer. 2000AD have various Dredd collections available with Brett’s work in them but I don’t know the exact volumes that feature him. Lastly here’s some rarely seen early work that he did for a British poster company in the late 70’s, these are hard to find now but sometimes crop up on eBay.
So, say for instance, you’ve heard of Judge Dredd, maybe you saw the Dredd film on DVD a year or so ago, you’ve read the odd graphic novel or seen high praise for certain stories kicking around the internet? Maybe you’ve read a few from the Top Ten Essential Dredd epics lists that periodically do the rounds on the web but want more? Where do you start with 38 years worth of stories, characters and continuity? Here is where, The Mega Collection: a fortnightly series of hardback story collections of the essential must-read tales spanning 80+ volumes (I read somewhere but can’t find now).
Starting with the classic tale of ‘America’ written by Dredd co-creator John Wagner and painted by Colin MacNeil at the incentive-inducing price of £1.99 it’s a no-brainer of a purchase if you’ve never read it. I can confirm that it’s a bonafide classic all right, centering around the subject of ‘democracy’ in Dredd’s world although it’s an odd choice to start the collection with. Maybe it sets the tone more than anything else and is a hard-hitting jump into how the Judges meter out ‘justice’ in the future?.
After the first issue the price jumps up to £9.99 per issue but there are subscriptions available with all sorts of free gifts and a free issue as well. Another incentive is that the complete collection will display this scene across the spines once finished. If you’re still not convinced then here’s a review of the first issue from the Everything Comes Back To 2000AD blog. This post reads back a bit like an advert unfortunately but it’s a perfect jumping in point and, for the same price of a vinyl 12″, a hardback collection every two weeks is a very good deal indeed.
If you read this blog regularly you may remember that around New Year Edmund Bagwell does an annual ‘cover’ to mark the date in the style of the old Jack Kirby 2001 comics. I checked his blog earlier this year to see if he’d uploaded one but nothing doing. Then today the 2015 one popped up in my Twitter feed and checking back through my posts I realised that I hadn’t posted 2014’s cover either. So here they are
although the 2015 one is very low res unfortunately. UPDATE: Edmund just sent me a hi quality version – thanks!
Because Disney now own Star Wars as well as Marvel they are relaunching the monthly titles previously published by Dark Horse in 2015 in anticipation for the new film in December. They’ve gone a bit over the top on the variant covers for this one – around 30 different ones apparently – here are some of my favourites starting with Alex Ross‘ version of the first ever Star Wars comic cover in his own style, very clever. Check the slightly less snooty depiction of Leia
This one by John Tyler Christopher both hints back to the original post-film tales of the original comic (yes there used to be a green humanoid rabbit as part of the cast at one point) and also tips a nod to those old Mad magazine covers of the 80’s.
This Skottie Young image comprises three titles: Princess Leia, Star Wars and Darth Vader, that join to form one panorama.
And there had to be a Boba Fett one didn’t there? (in fact there are several) I like the pulp feel of this one by Daniel-Acuna and Leslie has pointed out in the comments that it’s a take on The Amazing Spider-man 129 which was the first appearance of The Punisher.
Pretty great line up for this year’s free comic, it’s been years since Kevin O’Neill graced the pages of the Prog (not getting my hopes up, it could be a reprint). The great Henry Flint on the art again, that’s the third year running, not sure Dredd should be firing inside the shop like that? Speaking of which – Henry returns to Dredd later this year with a follow up to the excellent Titan story that was running this time last year.
This isn’t a ‘best of 2014′ list – just the things that I liked more than most, they’re not definitive or in an order other than the one I thought of them in.
• New Music:
The Soundcarriers – Entropicalia LP (Ghost Box)
Ghost of a Sabre Tooth Tiger – Midnight Sun LP (Chimera)
Jane Weaver – The Silver Globe LP (Bird)
Heliocentrics & Melvin Van Peebles – The Last Transmission LP (Now Again)
Jeremy Schmidt / Sinoia Caves – Beyond The Black Rainbow LP (Death Waltz)
Jokers of the Scene – End Scene LP (Throne of Canada)
Nico Motte – Rheologia EP (Antinote)
An-I – Kino-i 12” (Cititrax)
The Advisory Circle – From Out Here LP (Ghost Box)
Temples – Sun Structures / Sun Restructured LP (Heavenly)
Andy Votel / Doug Shipton – Polivox Orthodox mixtape (Finders Keepers)
Daniel Haaksman – Duck Rock – A Sonic Essay (mixtape)
tUnE-yArDs – Water Fountain 7″ (4AD)
Pye Corner Audio – The Black Mist EP (Front &Follow)
Mac McRaw feat. Audessey & Oxygen – B-Boy Bionics / Dust 12″ (Cold Rock Stuff)
Ukkonen – Change Time EP (Uncharted Audio)
Syd Arthur vs The Amorphous Androgynous LP (Monstrous Bubble Records)
John Carpenter / Alan Howarth – Halloween III (updated version) LP (Death Waltz)
Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Inside the Pleasuredome box set (ZTT/USM) (biased obviously)
The The – Soul Mining box set (Sony)
Z – Visions of Dune LP (Infiné)
• Sleeves / Packaging:
Astralasia – Wind On Water LP (Fruits De Mer)
Jack White – Lazaretto LP (Third Man)
(Not so much for the cover but for the whole package and vinyl cutting extravaganza)
Joe Mansfield – Beat Box: A Drum Machine Obsession (Gingko Press)
Andrew Lilies – The Equestrian Vortex 10″ (Death Waltz)
Temples – Sun Restructured LP (Lenticular sleeve) (Heavenly)
Various – Wild Style Breakbeats (7″s + book) (Kay-Dee)
Sage Francis, B. Dolan, Buddy Peace – Epic Beard Men 7″ (Blunt Force Trauma)
Rave Wars 3 – The Return of the Old School (7″ + Star Wars figure) (Balkan Vinyl)
Clone – Son of Octabred (Finders Keepers)
Sculpture – Plastic Infinite
The Soundcarriers – Entropicalia LP (Ghost Box)
• Books / Comics:
Prophet – Simon Roy & Brandon Graham / various artists (Image)
B.P.R.D. – Various (Dark Horse)
Punks – The Comic – Joshua Hale Fialkov & Kody Chamberlain (Image)
God Hates Astronauts – Ryan Browne (Image)
Black Science – Rick Remender, Matteo Scalera, Dean White (Image)
Hip Hop Family Tree 1&2 – Ed Piskor (Fantagraphics)
Sandman: Overture – Neil Gaiman & J. H. Williams III (Vertigo)
Discovering Scarfolk – Richard Littler (Ebury Press)
Dust & Grooves – Eilon Paz (self-published)
The Art of Smallfilms – Oliver Postgate, Peter Firmin, Jonny Trunk (Four Corners Books)
Urban Archaeology – 21 Years of Mo Wax – James Lavelle (Rizzoli International)
2000 TC – John Higgs (self-published)
2000ad / Judge Dredd The Megazine – Various (Rebellion)
Moosekid Comics – Various (self-published)
For Whom The Cowbell Tolls – Dan LeRoy (6623) (biased again)
• Films: (I didn’t watch too much this year sadly)
Blade Runner (finally saw it at the cinema)
Guardians of the Galaxy
Jodorowsky’s Dune documentary with Jodorowsky Q&A
The Cobbler & The Thief with Richard Williams Q&A
Future Shock: The Story of 2000AD documentary with Pat Mills, Kev O’Neill & crew Q&A
The Lego Movie
Ghost Box Night at the ICA
Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys
Jet Propelled Cinema – How Psychedelia Infected Hollywood Sci-Fi at the BFI
Touring the 3-Way Mix with Cheeba & Moneyshot
Cosmic Trigger – The Play
Meeting Brian Eno
Kid Koala‘s ‘Nufonia Must Fall’ show at the Roundhouse
Interviewing Matt Johnson at Rough Trade East
Future Shock gig at the Watershed, Bristol with Cheeba & Tom Lumen
Designing for Frankie Goes To Hollywood / ZTT
Space In This Place gig at the ArcelorMittal Orbit in London
Welcome To The Pleasuredome playback at Sarm West Studios
Digital Revolution exhibition at the Barbican with the family
Visiting underground caves in Switzerland
4 deck AV show at Madrid Espacio with DK
One of my sons getting a drawing printed in the Phoenix comic
Ryoji Ikeda‘s ‘Spectra’ installation in the Queen Victoria Park
Adam Ant playing Dirk Wears White Sox at the Hammersmith Odeon
Crazy DJ weekend in Eketerinberg and Samara in Russia
Mike McMahon finally finishing my Dredd commission after 2 years.
Ben Coghill (agent)
DJs Cheeba & Moneyshot
Philip Marshall (designer), Ian Peel (writer) & Steve Bunyan (USM organiser)
Eilon Paz (photographer)
Carlos Ezquerra (artist)
Rob Williams (writer)
Jamie Smart (childen’s comic creator)
Hope & Greenwood (East Dulwich branch of the sweet shop)
• Looking forward to:
Renegades of Rhythm tour (DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist)
Mad Max : Fury Road
21st Century Tank Girl book
The Writing On The Wall – Roger Perry book
John Carpenter – Lost Themes LP
Create A Mess
Trevor Jackson – Format LP
The The – Hyena soundtrack
Prophet: Earth War
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I saw this on the web last week – attributed on numerous sites to Wally Wood, which seemed a bit wrong. The pose seemed wrong, too modern for someone like Wood, plus it was obviously a pastiche of the infamous Steranko cover of Nick Fury – Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. no.6 (below) and I didn’t recall Wood ever doing that. There was also a signature on the bottom right corner that looked like Stan Vince and, after a bit of digging, I found that the French duo Stan (Manoukian) & Vincent (Roucher) were responsible.
It was a commission they had done for a friend a few years back and both were as mystified as to why it had been tagged as a Wood piece as I. The two images make a great couple but this was another case of the web stripping images of their info and misinformation passing as fact.
There’s been lot of online activity surrounding the Alien film franchise recently, specifically aimed at the original film. I don’t seem to be able to go a day without some new spin-off popping up, I’ve updated this post three times already.
You might have seen the recent Alien: Isolation game that takes the look of Ridley Scott‘s version and goes to great lengths to emulate it. The Art of the Title website has an extensive feature on what went into creating the look and design of the game here with some fascinating info and behind the scenes stuff. Just the opening title sequence alone is worth a watch (above – click the image to be taken to the site).
On the Alien: Isolation website there’s a whole host of Alien advent calendar goodies to get into, most pleasing to me being that you can now download parts of the comic that Henry Flint drew for the release around the time of SDCC. As well as that there are posters, concept art, game play tips and add-ons.
Poster posse have a great gallery of tribute posters to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the original and most, predictably, centre on the mood and tone of the debut. They’ve split the posters into three different phases and they can be viewed here PHASE 1 / PHASE 2 / PHASE 3.
If sound is your thing then Ambient Sleep Aids in the form of looped atmospherics and sound FX from Sci-Fi films are at your fingertips. Want to drift off to the sound of the Nostromo or the Death Star drifting through space? Someone called Crysknife007 has posted 20 minutes loops of just that.
and there’s more… check out this gorgeous fan image by Lord Mishkin which reminds me of John Bolton‘s work. Just look at that light source casting shadows and the reflection in the helmet, beautifully realised. She must be really knackered not to have clocked the Alien hanging from the rafters though…
I’ve saved the best post for last, I hope you have some time on your hands because this one goes way deeper than most. Dave Addey‘s Typeset In The Future site has published a feature on the graphic design of ‘Alien’ after his exploration of the typography in ‘Moon’ and ‘2001’.
It’s beyond nerdy in all the best ways – going from the opening titles to signage and on screen read outs on board the Nostromo. Clothing insignia, food packaging, warning signs and even keyboard labeling is covered, the last of which reveals some telling details about what the designers were reading at the time.
ODY-C is a new sci-fi take on The Odyssey, turning the myth on its head by reversing the roles so that almost all the characters are female. For me it was hard going, obviously taking cues from Prophet‘s galaxy-wide palette but not exactly easy to get into with the prose style being what it is.
Great artwork but ridiculous 8 panel foldout opening pages with baffling preamble that almost put me off. The main thing that will be interesting is that, aside from two male characters, it’s totally female-centric and that’s refreshing. It’s beautiful to look at but will that be enough to sustain it? Writer Matt Fraction is unknown to me but he seems to have written a ton of the main characters for a lot of the major publishers as well as winning a fair few awards.
Speaking of Prophet, there have been two interim ‘Strike Files’ that fill in characters and back story for those just getting into it. The next arc – Earth War – begins Dec 24th and this is still one of the most intelligent, forward thinking sci-fi comics out there. Here’s a self-contained page from ‘Strike File 2′.
Another amazing-looking comic that reads badly is the MadMan ‘In Your Face 3D special’ which, despite having some of the best 3D I’ve ever seen in a comic, is dull as dishwater. The first half of the comic mainly consists of Madman and Mister Excitement running through all manner of alternate realities featuring versions of themselves as just about every comic character you can think of. Many are rendered in the style of the originals with some excellent stylistic observations but it’s just page after page of tedious dialogue.
Later on he spends 14 double page spreads battling flying snake-like beings whilst engaging in the kind of conversation you’d normally associate with a few jars down the pub. The depth of the imagery is great and the wormy beings are perfect to convey this but it’s repetitive and dull to read. Better are the 20 odd pin-up pages that form a large chunk of the end of the book, drawn by guest artists that play with the medium to varying degrees of success.
But what do I know? I’ve never read Madman in my life and am probably missing all sorts of clever plot points and character development, looks great but wasn’t for me. UPDATE: Actually there was a nice little story at the back of the book which dealt with creative plagiarism where the villain ripping off Madman’s look was called Vatchah Gondu – nice touch. It strikes me though that the 3D treatment would be better served on something like the current run of Sandman and would be perfect fodder to play with the inter-dimensional themes of the character.
Punks The Comic #3 arrived this week and has generated a little bit of a fuss in some stores over the inclusion of Fist flipping the bird on the cover. There was meant to be a censored version (see right, above) but this got lost somehow at the printing stage so Kody Chamberlain (the artist) thought he’d have fun with the occasion and has made a censorship kit.
I recently bought some original art from Kody Chamberlain, the artist on Punks -The Comic. I managed to get in early and nab the Dimension X variant cover which is an homage to The Incredible Hulk 181 where he battles Wolverine. Kody also did another homage to Superman‘s first appearance on the cover of Action Comics and there’s Peanuts and Spiderman ones forthcoming.
The art is a beautiful mess of Xeroxed, distressed photocopies and Scotch Magic tape complete with creases and no attempt to keep things clean in the best tradition of DIY Punk artists like Jamie Reid. I also got page 1 of issue 1 and a trio of Nutpuncher games cards featuring the character, Skull (see gallery below).
Punks #1&2 are out now from Image Comics, #3 is out this month sometime and you can buy original art from Kody’s site. There are also two previous issues, a Summer and Winter special although these date from 2007 (!) and are mostly being reprinted in part in the back of the new issues. The Summer special is well worth tracking down for an interview with Art Chantry who talks about collage work, David Carson and the age of the computer in the design world which is no less relevant now than it was 7 years ago.